Blog Post 2: 8/1/2016 – Deep In the Marsh – Hunting Island State Park

What a great start to the summer. Now that I’ve been here over a week, I’m starting to get in the swing of research. Like most processes, procuring the crab traps and the appropriate permits was slow at the beginning. There’s always red tape and bureaucracy that can muddle efficiency. Nevertheless, we’ve been successful thus far in the marsh.

As a reminder, we have a total of six crab traps, (24″ x 24″ x 20″). Two are fitted with the SC BRD (2 inches x 35/8¬†inches), two with the VA BRD (2 inches x 6 inches), and two control, without any BRD. We want to see which crab pots exclude the most turtles, but also don’t prevent larger, and profitable blue crabs from entering. So far, we haven’t caught any turtles but we know they are ubiquitous. Since soak hours are dictated by the tide, our guess is that once high tide tends to gravitate more in he morning or late evening, when the temperature is cooler, more turtles may be out and about. They are quite sensible creatures and want to avoid extreme temperatures… as should we.

But we’ve caught more than 15 crabs each day, which, by the end of the summer will give us a substantial set of data. One trend we haven’t quite yet figured out is that every single crab we’ve caught has been male. If this trend continues throughout this week, I’ll research why this may be. Interestingly enough, while there tend to be more crabs caught in the control and VA BRD, which is what we originally expected, the largest crab to date was caught in a SC BRD at 5.9″. I have no idea how such an enormous crab was able to squeeze through that 2 x 35/8¬†inch piece of plastic.

All is well here on Hunting Island State Park, and I hope to see some turtles this week (but hopefully none caught in the traps)!

Your friend,


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  1. Hey Peter! Patrick here, I did your reciprocal study this summer here in Williamsburg!

    I’ve been hearing about your progress from Professor Chambers, and I gotta say, kudos to you for sticking with it. It sucks when all that bureaucracy gets in the way of science. Glad you could finally get some traps in the water!

    I don’t know if you’ve seen any of our data yet, but it’s pretty interesting. We were also very surprised that the SC BRD performed comparably. It caught a similar number of crabs, and their size average was only a couple mm less than the VA and no BRD traps.

    Good luck on your research, looking forward to your data!

  2. Hi Peter,

    Love these pictures! Your project sounds really interesting, what is the purpose? Is it to design the most efficient trap that is also turtle-friendly? Has there been an issue of turtles being accidentally trapped in crab traps? If so, are the turtles harmed? Also, what is a VA BRD?